Tennessee falls into what the U.S. Department of Agriculture defines as a transition zone in terms of its grass hardiness. This means both warm- and cold-season grasses can grow in the state. Warm-season grasses are recommended for the lower elevations in the middle part of the state, while the cool-season grasses are good for throughout the state.
Tall fescue is a perennial cold-season grass known for its durability and rapid growth during the spring and fall. It can tolerate full sun and shaded areas, and is also considered drought-resistant, although watering may be required during extended arid periods. Because it does well in shaded areas, it is a good lawn grass for yards with trees. It does not require a lot of maintenance and is often used on sports fields. It is one of the last of the cold-season grasses to lose its attractive dark green color in the autumn. The Aggie Horticulture website says the best time to plant tall fescue is in the early fall from sod or seed. The American Lawns website calls it the best grass for Tennessee.
Perennial ryegrass is a warm-season grass known for its durability. Its eye-catching dark green color and medium texture has resulted in it often being used on golf courses, lawns, sports fields and in parks. It is a quick grower and, because of its versatility, is often mixed with other grasses. It does not require much maintenance and forms a thick sod. Seedland also says it is highly resistant to diseases and insects. It can tolerate high heat, low temperatures and is drought-resistant. Ryegrass prefers full sun, but is tolerant of partial shade, and grows best in soil that has good drainage and at least average fertility.
Kentucky bluegrass is an adaptable grass well-suited for the Tennessee climate, according to the Aggie Horticulture website. It is tolerant to cold, moderate heat and drought, and is also durable. Bluegrass provides an attractive lawn with its deep green color. It is widely used throughout most of the country, according to the University of California Agricultural and Natural Resources website. It is a cold-season grass that thrives best in full sun, but will also tolerate partial shade. Bluegrass grows slows during the summer months, but usually quickly springs to life in the fall. It can be planted from both seed and sod, and mixes well with other types of grasses.
Zoysia is a good choice for Tennessee because it is one of the most cold-tolerant of the warm-season grasses. According to the Outside Pride website, zoysia rarely suffers any winter damage in Tennessee. Zoysia does well in areas with full sun and partial shade. It is considered resistant to drought because it has deep roots that have the ability to draw water from the ground. It spreads with stolons and rhizomes, is a durable grass that forms a dense turf and turns brown following the first frost, but is one the first of the warm-weather grasses to turn green in the spring.